The Standard Model is extremely effective at describing the fundamental particles and interactions, but is widely believed to be incomplete. For example, the Standard Model cannot explain the asymmetry between matter and antimatter, and there is so far no leading candidate for a theory of dark matter or dark energy. Recent advances in both theory and experiment for atomic physics have opened a number of new and exciting avenues for discovery, and have placed this field at the forefront of probing fundamental physics and searching for dark matter. Further, the different energy scales involved in atomic processes make such experiments sensitive to a different range of new physics signatures than conventional searches, such as those at largescale high-energy physics experiments, like colliders at CERN, or large underground neutrino detectors. Input is needed from atomic theory both to interpret the results of experiments in terms of new physics theories, and to direct future experiments.

In particular, high-precision atomic physics experiments play an important role in testing the Standard Model of particle physics at low energy. Highly accurate atomic structure calculations are required in order to interpret the experiments in terms of fundamental physics parameters. Atomic physics calculations involve treating the many-electron atomic Hamiltonian approximately. In order to achieve high accuracy, a number of many-body effects need to be taken into account using perturbation theory. This project is to continue to develop and test techniques for extending many-body methods for high-precision calculations of atomic systems with the aim of extending and improving atomic probes of fundamental physics.

Project members

Dr Benjamin Roberts